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How Scotland is leading in precision medicine

Precision medicine is capable of spurring a revolution in healthcare, bringing the prospects of earlier diagnosis, more effective treatment, cost savings and better patient outcomes. The University Of Glasgow is leading the way in this new medical revolution, with collaboration at the heart of its success says Professor Dame Anna Dominiczak, Head of the University’s College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences.

What is precision medicine

“Precision medicine, also called stratified or personalised medicine, involves combining the usual patient examinations and data, with information derived from techniques such as genomics, proteomics, metabolomics and new imaging modalities, so a patient’s condition can be ‘stratified’,” says Dominiczak.

Why is collaboration vital?

While precision medicine can enable better, earlier diagnosis and treatment, a large measure of collaboration is required for it to be successfully implemented.

“We are using a ‘triple-helix’ approach to precision medicine, which involves close collaboration among academic researchers, the NHS and industry here in Glasgow,” says Dominiczak, explaining that the three parties are essential to making precision medicine work.

What is happening now?

Glasgow is home to a new biomedical innovation cluster called the Clinical Innovation Zone, funded by the Scottish and UK governments, within the new Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH) campus–the largest acute medical facility in Western Europe.

“The university works in collaboration with industry partners who have co-located here, including companies that have moved in from overseas. They are attracted by the possibility of developing precision medicine where they are close to researchers, can interact with clinicians, and implement their products in the NHS,” says Dominiczak. The zone also includes companies that are spin-outs from the university, and also an informatics company that links Scottish health data.

Ahead of the game

Scotland is ahead of the game when it comes to creating life sciences innovation clusters, says Dominiczak. “We have been creating a multidisciplinary ecosystem for precision medicine here for the last four years – well ahead of the publication of the government’s Life Sciences Industrial Strategy paper. We hope our experience will enable us to offer help in developing that strategy, so the whole UK benefits.”

“We think Scotland is in a particularly strong position because of its size, the wealth of its NHS data and the high level of willingness among Scots to participate in clinical trials. A high percentage of Scots are also happy to donate surplus tissue and blood samples for research,” Dominiczak says.

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